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Guidelines governing the prescription of
benzodiazepines around the world
"Benzodiazepines are indicated for the short-term relief (two to four weeks only) of anxiety that is severe, disabling or subjecting the individual to unacceptable distress, occurring alone or in association with insomnia or short-term psychosomatic, organic or psychotic illness."
Benzodiazepines warning, Chief Medical Officer's Update 37, Patient Safety, Department of Health, January 2004.
"It is generally agreed that, lacking evidence that the anti-anxiety properties of these drugs exceed two to four weeks, and since anxiety is typically episodic, courses of one to two weeks are recommended." [Appropriate Uses of Benzodiazepines, Duration of Use and Dosage, p21]
"Efficacy as an antianxiety agent has not been demonstrated for longer than a few weeks and, because of the risk of dependency as well as with individual variation in dose response, continuous use should not exceed two weeks." [Summary And Conclusion, p49]
"Benzodiazepines have been prescribed freely for many years but only recently have the dangers of dependence been understood. Short term treatment may be beneficial but longer term use, more than four weeks, could well be harmful to the patient."
Benzodiazepines are classified as narcotics in Sweden, December 8, 2001.
A consensus statement on the use of benzodiazepines in specialist mental health services, College of Psychiatry, June 2012
"Benzodiazepines are licensed for use for 4 weeks only."
Report of the Benzodiazepine Committee, Department of Health and Children, Ireland, August 2002 (PDF File). Anxiety: Benzodiazepines should not usually be prescribed for longer than one month. Sleep: Prescription should be: limited to between 2 and 4 weeks; at the lowest effective dose; and prescribed intermittently.
Prescription should be limited only to people assessed as needing it. Doses must be within the therapeutic ranges. They should not be prescribed for longer than four weeks. Patients should be reviewed regularly. Doctors should not issue repeat prescriptions. Doctors should reduce prescriptions to get patients off entirely.
A Call for EU Guidelines on the Prescribing of Benzodiazepines, Barry Haslam, February, 2004.
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